The creators of the feather ruffling billboard cranked up the temperature on a matter already boiling over by making it race specific. By targeting African Americans rather than women in general (or people in general since baby making tends to be a joint activity) cries of racism were inescapable. The commentary made was a punch to the gut of every person who identifies themselves as being Black. I certainly felt the sucker punch. But after the initial reaction there was divergence of opinion. Some felt that with the bombardment of messages we receive today, resorting to shock value in such an instance is a necessary evil. Better to disturb people into contemplation than being subtle at the risk of being ignored. Others started off furious and remained that way, feeling that their Blackness, their Womanhood, and their Black Womanhood had all been assaulted.
I have zero intention of preaching my personal views about abortion here. Nor will I delve into the subject of racial sensitivity at the moment. You can browse previous postings for my take on identity and sometimes misplaced pride. Reactions and opinions from all parties about the billboard shown below are valid. I'll just stick with the facts as I understand them to be, and common sense as I am best able to render it. Taking a side is often more tempting than trying to see both of them, but for now I'll resist temptation.
The billboard informs us in jarring fashion that abortion is the number one cause of death in the African American community. We are not told where it ranks with any other ethnic groups or throughout the world at large, which implies (honestly or not I do not know) that African Americans abort fetuses at a higher rate than anyone else. If factual, awareness of the truth is never a bad thing. Awareness precedes action and I don't believe anyone can convincingly argue against trying to lower the ranking. Debates therefore should take place about WHO is best suited to deliver this message, WHERE it is best done, WHEN are the most suitable occassions, WHY the bearer of such news is delivering it (political gain being the least acceptable reason), and most importantly, HOW we should move to prevent a sad statistic from becoming an epidemic. Teen abstinence certainly needs to take a seat at the bargaining table along with information and availability of contraceptives. But we know that in spite of education attempts such measures will not be taken in a great many situations (such as when your mother is the governor of Alaska as one example), so conversation must be had about how next to proceed.
I have written about my advocacy for increased awareness in a positive light about the option of Adoption. The quandary of abortion is a theme addressed in my first novel Patches of Grey and a central issue of my second - Matters of Convenience. I personally did not need to see a billboard to be stirred into thought on this subject. But perhaps some people did. Yesterday on Twitter I wrote "You can rarely convince anyone of anything if you start off by insulting them". At most you can prod them, probably into outrage at your audacity rather than into problem resolution mode. So I cannot say of the billboard as if running for office that I approve of this message, because in fact I do not approve of the offensive way in which it was presented. What I do wholeheartedly approve of is people declaring that enough is enough, taking accountability, and then doing something worthwhile about it.
Article on what went up and down